Winter Blooming Jasmine (Jasmine polyanthum)

by Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Winter Jasmine is known for its pink buds that open to delicate, 5-petaled, star-shaped flowers with an intoxicating fragrance. This climbing jasmine from Winter JasmineChina has a profuse display of fragrant white flowers that appear in the dead of winter. It is the national flower in many countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. Jasmine is also a popular girl’s name in many countries including the United States.

Growth Habit
Winter Jasmine is a fast grower whose vining branches can extend many feet in a single summer climbing on any structure that is nearby. Easy to cultivate in containers, it can be grown on a stake or trellis where periodic wrapping of the vining branches onto the trellis will keep it contained along with seasonal pruning of mature plants. It is also a good plant for hanging baskets where, with a little encouragement, it makes a spectacular specimen.

How do I get my Winter Jasmine to flower?
Flower bud initiation is caused by subjecting the plant to cool night temperatures in the fall and early winter. If this is done over a period of many weeks, flower buds will appear at the leaf axis near the terminal growth. As a rule of thumb, temperatures in the mid to low fifties down to just above freezing are needed for this chill period. It is important to keep the developing buds in this nighttime coolness until the bracts and individual flowers are visibly formed. If moved too quickly into a warm (above 60°) growing area, they will go back into vegetative growth and although a few flowers might reach maturity, the display will be diminished. For most growing areas, this means that the cool nights of fall and early winter are the best time to initiate the flowering cycle with a full blooming plant arriving in mid-February. Here at Logee’s, some years the flowers arrive in early January when we have a cold fall, in other years, flowers arrive in late February to early March if the prior fall was warm.


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Growing Kumquats- The Pop-in-Your-Mouth Fruit

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

The Kumquat is thought to have originated in Southern Japan and China.  It was originally known as the “gam kwat” with an early reference in the 12th century. Fortunella margarita 'Nagami'Kumquats are loved for their oval, oblong or round tiny fruit that produce abundantly on small trees in the ground or prolifically in containers. The bite-size, pop-in-your-mouth fruit have edible skin.  Some varieties are sweet on the outside and tart on the inside; others are sweet all the way through. In 1864, Robert Fortune, a collector from the London Horticultural Society introduced kumquats to Europe, and shortly thereafter to North America. In 1915, Kumquats were no longer classified as Citrus japonica but were named after Mr. Fortune and the new genus became  Fortunella.

Logee’s Kumquats

At Logee’s, we grow four varieties of kumquats. We grow them as grafted plants rather than cuttings because they don’t root readily and grafting the named variety onto an understock increases vigor and encourages early fruiting.  We typically use Citrumelo or C. macrophylla as the rootstock.

‘Nagami’ (Fortunella margarita) This kumquat is often found in produce sections of your grocery store. The fruit is small and oblong and is typically more sour than the other varieties.

‘Nordmann Seedless Nagami’ (Fortunella margarita)  The teardrop shaped fruit is tart and juicy and completely seedless. The fruit ripens from December to June.

‘Meiwa’ (Fortunella crassifolia) is the sweetest kumquat that we grow and it is sweet and delicious inside and out.  It has a small round shape.

‘Changshou’ (Fortunella obovata ‘Fukushu’) is slightly larger than the other kumquats and also has sweet skin with a sweet inner flesh. The Changshou bears fruit heavily and can produce fruit twice a year.


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Camellias – Delightful Winter and Spring Bloomers

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Camellias are well-loved flowers, nicknamed the “tea flower” with hundreds of different species boasting unusual colors and forms. They are flowering shrubs from highFragAsia and are well known for their prolific floral displays in winter and spring. Camellias were first grown in China and Japan where they were depicted in art, on wallpaper and even on early porcelain. In the early 1700’s, the camellia made its way to England. Camellia sinensis, the tea of commerce, was brought to England for the tea industry. Soon, the floral form of camellias found their way into the hearts of English gardeners. Camellia japonica varieties became center stage in the English horticultural scene in 1792 and have been well-loved around the world ever since. In southern climates, camellias are planted in landscapes and in the north they are used as container plants to bring color and fragrance to the winter months.

Planting Camellias Outside
As outside plants, camellias are ideal for the landscape and can be grown where winters are moderate in zones 7-9.  Some of the hardier varieties can be grown in zone 6; they take temperatures down to zero and still flower when the warmer weather returns. We have tried some of the colder varieties in Connecticut but although we can get them to live, they usually don’t flower as the buds get damaged in the hard freezes.

Camellias as Container Plants
As container plants, camellias can be grown in a home that has cool windowsills. It’s important to keep the plant close to the glass and away from the room’s heat source. Camellias need cool winter temperatures to flower. Optimally, camellias, grown indoors, need night temperatures from 35° to 55°F. Daytime temps can be 60-70°F but cool nighttime temperatures are a must for flowering. When grown in the north in an unheated growing area, camellia plants should have some protection to the root ball.


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Choosing Containers, Pots and Vessels for your Plants

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Containers, pots and vessels for plants have been around for thousands of years. They have become a well-loved art form and many times they are the focal point in garden rooms, patios and windowsills. In
pot_imgbar_longthe United States, a glazed flowerpot dating back to 1750 from Norwich, Connecticut was thought to be the earliest pot in the U.S. but then a three-inch clay pot in a Spanish settlement on Parris Island, SC was unearthed dating back to 1569. The earliest flowerpot on record was first documented in 317-287 BC Athens, Greece. Whether beautiful hand thrown, rolled-rim terra cotta pots from Italy, glazed orchid pots from England, colorful plastic pots from China or earthen pots from the United States, we know one thing for sure and that is the obsession with pots is worldwide. There is no question that size, shape, color and form are players in the container gardening scene but our focus in this article is about the advantages and disadvantages of each container and their effects upon the plant.

Purpose of Containers
Containers hold the root system and the potting media together. A container provides a closed environment for the plant to grow and maintain its root zone structure while allowing the gardener the freedom to move the plant into different growing areas. All good containers MUST have one or more drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Otherwise, the soil becomes too wet and can be a haven for disease organisms or fungus gnats. For most plants, providing a wet and dry cycle, similar to environmental conditions plants experience in nature is best. For example, growing a lemon tree in Connecticut is only an option because it can be grown in a pot. The ability to move the plant both indoors and outdoors or grow the plant in an area where garden soil is not available makes growing plants an enjoyable hobby for people in all climate zones. Also, growing a plant inside on a windowsill allows you to control the environmental conditions.

Plastic pots
Plastic pots have many advantages. They are cheap, relatively durable, lightweight and for the consumer as well as commercial grower, come in a vast array of sizes, colors and forms. Its only disadvantage, other than the environmental waste issue, is that a plastic pot can hold soil moisture for longer periods of time. For plants that have high water demands, this is advantageous, but for plants that need a quick dry down, high mositure can be detrimental for good root health.

Clay pots
Clay pots give the gardener the ability to more accurately manage soil moisture. We have found when growing in clay, overall plant health is better, especially for plants with sensitive root systems. Clay does take a little more attention to watering, as the dry down is usually quicker. Clay pots allow moisture to escape from the entire surface of the pot so it provides better overall soil aeration. We still use clay pots for some of our stock plants that are sensitive to root disease. If a home gardener is interested in optimum root health and is attentive to watering, then we highly recommend growing in clay pots. Some disadvantages of clay or terra cotta are that they break easily and they tend to be heavy in weight. When the plant gets big and the pot size is over 10 inches, they are harder to move around. If large clay pots filled with soil are left outside in freezing weather, they can crack and break.

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Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)- Growing this Culinary Spice for your Kitchen Table

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) is the most commonly used spice in the world and when paired with salt can be found on almost every Potted peppercorn planthousehold table in the United States. (The Ultimate Guide To Growing Black Pepper, April 2013). Black Pepper has known health benefits such as: it increases nutrient absorption, improves heart rate and blood pressure, promotes healthy cell growth and digestion, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and enhances the immune system. The beauty of the Black Pepper spice is that not much is needed to get the beneficial effects. (What is Black Pepper Good For? Jan. 2013, The plant, Piper nigrum is native to South India, loves the hot tropics and has been in cultivation for over 2,000 years.  In temperate climates, Black Pepper makes an excellent houseplant.

Peppercorn Fruit:
Green and red peppercorn fruits are often found on the plant at the same time. The red fruit is the ripening fruit. The peppercorn can be picked whether the color is green or red depending on which type of peppercorn you desire. If you want black or green pepper as your final color then, harvest the peppercorn when it’s green. If you want white or red pepper, then harvest the peppercorn when it is red.

Growth Habit:all peppercornsWEB4 peppercornsWEB
Black Pepper has a vining habit so it grows well in a basket or in a pot with a stake or trellis for support. Attach the stems to the trellis so the plant climbs easily.

In its native habit of southern India, Black Pepper is an understory plant that climbs up trees and grows in dappled light. When grown as a houseplant, it needs moderate light in an east or west window and it should be placed directly on the windowsill or close to your light source if grown in a light garden. It does benefit from some direct sunlight but not hot noonday sun. Like other tropical plants, Black Pepper can be grown outside during the summer months and brought inside for the winter.

If you are looking to optimize your flowering and fruiting, then providing daytime temperatures above 70˙F ( 21˙C) is ideal. Black Pepper grows best in temperatures above 60˙F(15˙C).

The flowers start growing at the leaf nodes of new growth. The small white flowers form pendulous spikes and then small, round, green peppercorns form in chains, which in time ripen to red. Growth slows down in the winter, yet it will fruit and flower year-round.

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For a complete listing of all Logee’s Black Pepper plants, click here. 

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Grow Your Own Cup of Coffee

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Coffee is a popular beverage around the world. In America alone, 54% of the population over age 18, consume coffee8422231291_4285f17855_qeveryday (National Coffee Association 2014). Every few years, a new study comes out and tells us something new about coffee consumption. Lately, the research has been pointing to health benefits such as: long term coffee consumption can reduce the risk of diabetes, slow the progression of liver cancer, lessen the risk of Parkinson’s disease and is reported to not have any ill effects with regards to heart disease or stroke (Harvard School of Public Health 2015). Coffee consumption is not going away. Instead, the enjoyment and ritual around a morning cup of coffee has become an obsession. Growing your own coffee beans is now a key part of that obsession.

Coffee Plants:6216031916_3fe1b29b3f_q
The coffee plant is in the Rubiacea family, the same family as the gardenia. There are many species of coffee but two specifically are used for commercial production. Coffea arabica, known as Arabica and Coffea canephora, known as Robusta. Arabica accounts for 75-80 % of the world’s production of coffee ( 2015), even though Robusta produces more abundantly, the flavor of Arabica is far superior to Robusta.

Growing Coffee arabica as a potted plant:
Arabica makes an excellent potted plant for gardeners that are outside of the tropics. The coffee plant is one of the best fruiting plants grown indoors in the north. Its ability to fruit under less than three feet in height and its ability to adapt to low light levels make it an ideal candidate for any indoor garden space. The fragrant flowers and fruits, also known as cherries, produce well in manyCoffee arabica plant environmental conditions including the dry atmosphere typical in a home as well as dry soil conditions.

Growth Habit of Coffee:
Coffee plants have attractive shiny, deep green leaves and lateral branching. The branches come off a central leader stem much like a pine tree. Arabica has a full, bushy habit and the fragrant white flowers emerge on the lateral branches usually in unison, creating quite a show. The sweet fragrance lasts for many days and then, the flowers are followed by the formation of the fruit or ‘cherries.’

The Cherry or Coffee Fruit:
The cherries emerge green and then ripen to a bright red color. They will turn crimson and then black if they are left on the tree too long. This is past picking time. The best harvest time is when the cherries are bright red. Most cherries have two beans or seeds inside from which the roasted coffee bean is made.  Read More…

To View Logee’s Coffee plants, click here

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Growing Starfruit in Pots

Star Fruit is a juicy tropical fruit with a delicious tart flavor. The yellow fruit is 3-4″ long with a waxy skin and 5 prominent ridges. A cross-section of the cut fruit looks like a 5-pointed star. Star Fruit is low in calories and low in sugar so it’s an ideal fruit for the whole family to enjoy. When it’s grown in the tropics, one Star Fruit tree can provide fruit for up to three families because of its prolific fruiting habit.

Where Star Fruit GrowsPlant
Star Fruit, or Averrhoa carambola. is a tropical fruiting tree in the oxalis family that’s native to tropical Asia. Widely grown throughout the warmer areas of the world, it has little hardiness but can tolerate a light frost and temperatures into the high 20’s for short periods. In general it needs temperatures above freezing to prevent plant damage.

Grown as a Potted Plant
As a northern container plant, it will survive in greenhouses or sunrooms during the winter months and it should be grown outside during the summer months. During the winter, night temperatures need to be kept well above freezing. Low temperatures will often lead to leaf drop and at times, the plant will almost completely defoliate. No worries though, the plants will recover once the warm temperatures return.

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